The Penfolds St Henri style is a dramatic contrast to Penfolds Grange. St Henri is pure, unadorned Shiraz, virtually alone among high-quality Australian reds in that it has never relied on new oak. It was created in the mid-1950s (first commercial vintage 1957) and has gained a new lease on life in the 1990s as its quality and distinctive style became better understood.
Penfolds St Henri is rich and plush when young and gains soft, earthy, mocha-like characters as it ages. Before bottling it is matured in old, 2000 litre vats that allow the wine to develop, but impart no oak character. A small proportion of Cabernet is used to improve structure, but the focal point for Penfolds St Henri is Shiraz, often comprising over 95% of the blend. Packaged in laser-etched bottles since the 1996 vintage.
This is a concentrated, dark wine, with intense summer berry fruits forming a rich ball of flavour on the tongue and offering plenty of depth and palate length. There are fine, ripe tannins that extend into a well-structured velvety texture, with waves of perfume, warm spices and berries running through the finish. Many hallmarks of a very fine wine indeed, akin to the 1990 upon its release.